At the upcoming Baselworld 2011 trade show Hublot, the Swiss watchmaker that is known for its radical approach to conspicuous consumption, is going to present a somewhat unexpected take on the concept of invisible luxury: the Hublot Big Bang Black Caviar (Ref. 346.CX.1800.BR) automatic watch that has every square millimeter of its surface paved with glossy black ceramic blocks.
With its case, crown and even the dial made entirely of ceramic, the new Hublot Big Bang Black Caviar seems to be the first watch ever to use the scratch-resistant and lightweight material to such an extent.
Those who keep an eye on the still young Swiss brand probably immediately noticed that the new timepiece is coming in the footsteps of the famous Hublot Black Caviar Bang one-off watch.
Of course, there is no tourbillon here and the Caliber HUB 1112 self-winding movement that animates it is very simple with its standard three hands and a date ( as far as I understand, the mechanism is based on the well-known Sellita SW300 ebauche,) however the ceramic surfaces of the watch are designed, cut, bevelled and polished in order to remind of (or to simply imitate) the hundreds of baguette black diamonds from the super-exclusive timekeeper that retailed at exactly one million dollars.
Adding a couple extra words about the movement, I must admit that I am somewhat disappointed by its blatant lack of refinement. While I understand that they probably tried to develop a finish that looks extremely high-tech and, well, different from the rest of the crowd with their inevitable Geneva stripes, perlange and all the usual staff, I still think that they could have done better making the mechanism more elegant: we have seen numerous examples (I am thinking about Porsche Design and Panerai, of course) when deliberately simple finish looked way cooler than lavishly hand-engraved calibers by incumbent brands.
The high-polished glitter of the watch is perfectly matched with the strap, which is made of glossy black alligator leather stitched on black rubber. As always, the strap is where things get complicated as long as it develops first signs of wear: Hublot uses proprietary strap-locking system and you will probably be forever enslaved by the brand when it comes to replacement straps. Well, maybe that’s not bad thing unless the watchmaker suddenly decided to go out of business, eh?
While I had rather mixed feelings regarding the original Black Caviar model, I must say that I like the ceramic version of the watch.
Although this version will, too, be quite expensive, there is a lot less of conspicuous consumption in it and a bit more of a good taste.
Build Quality: 5/5
Overall Legibility: 3/5
Nighttime Legibility: 1/5
Value for Money: 3/5
Overall Rating: 3.5/5
Hublot Big Bang Black Caviar (Ref. 346.CX.1800.BR) automatic watch specification
Price: $11,000 (MSRP)
Movement: Automatic, Caliber Hublot HUB 1112 (based on Sellita SW300-1,) Swiss Made
Movement decoration: Skeletonized black rotor, machine-brushed bridges
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date
Power reserve: 42 hours
Case material: Ceramic
Bezel material: Ceramic
Case shape: Round
Bezel shape: Round
Case size: 41.00 mm
Lug width: No data
Case height: No data
Hands: Steel, open-worked
Water resistance: 100 meters
Strap: Brilliant black “glossy” alligator strap stitched on black rubber
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective coating
Case back: Sapphire